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Enter FIRST BACCHIS and SECOND BACCHIS from the house.

1st BACCHIS
Who is it that calls out my name with such a noise and tumult, and is knocking so hard at the door?

NICOBULUS
I and this person here. Pointing to PHILOXENUS.

1st BACCHIS
Pray, what's the matter now? Who has been driving these sheep1 to us?

NICOBULUS
These most shocking hussies call us sheep.

2nd BACCHIS
Their shepherd's asleep, as they come straying thus from the flock.

1st BACCHIS
But, i' faith, they are not white; they both look dirty.

2nd BACCHIS
Because they have both been shorn just now.

PHILOXENUS
How they seem to be laughing at us.

NICOBULUS
Let them, just as long as they please.

1st BACCHIS
Don't you think that these sheep are shorn three times a year?

2nd BACCHIS
I' faith, to-day one of them has been already shorn twice, that's sure.

1st BACCHIS
They are old and fleeceless2, both of them.

2nd BACCHIS
But I think they have been in good plight once.

1st BACCHIS
Prithee, do you see how they are looking with a sheep's eye at us?

2nd BACCHIS
By my troth, I really do believe they are without any ill design.

PHILOXENUS
This happens to us deservedly, for having come here.

1st BACCHIS
Well, let them be driven in-doors to fold3.

2nd BACCHIS
I don't know what occasion there is for that, as they have neither milk nor wool. Let them stand as they are. Of whatever value they have been, they are now out of date; all their fruit has fallen off them by this. Don't you see, how, straying unattended, they are ranging about at liberty? Why, I fancy that they must be dumb with age; they don't bleat even, though they are absent from the rest of the flock. They seem both silly and worthless.

1st BACCHIS
Let's return in-doors, sister.

NICOBULUS
Stay where you are, both of you; these sheep want you.

2nd BACCHIS
Why, surely this is a prodigy; sheep are addressing us with a human voice.

PHILOXENUS
These sheep will return you the heavy and great injury which they owe to you.

1st BACCHIS
If you owe me aught, I forgive it you; keep it to yourself; I'll never demand it of you. But what is the reason that you are threatening mischief to us?

PHILOXENUS
Because they say that our two lambs are shut up here. Pointing to the house.

NICOBULUS
And besides those lambs, my dog is there concealed that bites4. If they are not now produced to us and sent out of the house, we shall be furious rams; we shall attack you forthwith.

1st BACCHIS
Sister, I have something to say to you in private.

2nd BACCHIS
How now, prithee? They go apart.

NICOBULUS
Whither are they going?

FIRST BACCHIS
Sister, I give to you that old fellow that's farthest off, that you may have him cleverly smoothed down; I'll now attack this other one that's angry; if we can only entice them here indoors.

2nd BACCHIS
I'll manage my task with cleverness, although 'tis to caress an old skeleton.

1st BACCHIS
Take care and do your best.

2nd BACCHIS
Be quiet; do you do yours; I'll manage what I have said.

NICOBULUS
Why are these two women holding a council here in private?

PHILOXENUS
What say you, my good fellow----?

NICOBULUS
What would you with me?

PHILOXENUS
I really am ashamed to tell you a certain thing.

NICOBULUS
What is it that you're ashamed about?

PHILOXENUS
Still, as you are a person, a friend of mine, I'm determined to entrust you with what I could wish. Whispers. I'm good for nought.

NICOBULUS
I've known that this long time; but tell me why you're good for nought?

PHILOXENUS
I've been terribly touched with birdlime: troth, my heart is pierced by the goad.

NICOBULUS
I' faith, 'twere much better if your flanks were goaded, you worthless fellow. But what is it? Although I suspect that I myself pretty well know already what it is; still, I should even like to hear it from yourself.

PHILOXENUS
Do you see that woman? Pointing to the SECOND BACCHIS.

NICOBULUS
I see her.

PHILOXENUS
She's not an uncomely person.

NICOBULUS
Troth, but she is decidedly uncomely; and you are a good-for-nothing fellow.

PHILOXENUS
Why more? I'm in love.

NICOBULUS
You, in love?

PHILOXENUS
'Pon honor5.

NICOBULUS
And do you, you rotten creature, presume to become a lover at your time of life?

PHILOXENUS
Why not?

NICOBULUS
Because it's a disgrace.

PHILOXENUS
What need of words? I am not vexed with my son, nor yet is it right you should be vexed with yours: if they are in love, they do wisely.

1st BACCHIS
... Follow me this way. They approach the old men.

NICOBULUS
See, they are moving at last, these allurers and enticers to disgrace. To the women. How now? Do you this instant restore us our sons and my servant, or am I to try rougher means with you?

PHILOXENUS
Won't you away with you? You surely are not a man, to address a pretty woman so rudely in that fashion.

1st BACCHIS
Most worthy old gentleman, by whatsoever is upon the earth, let me entreat this of you, that you will cease to attack this error with such great vehemence.

NICOBULUS
If you don't away with you, although you are so handsome, I'll be doing you some great mischief just now.

1st BACCHIS
I shall endure it; I don't apprehend that any blow that you can give, will cause me any pain.

NICOBULUS
How smooth of speech she is. O me! I am in alarm.

1st BACCHIS
aside . He's more calm already. Aloud. Step this way with me in-doors; and there, if you choose, correct your son. Takes his arm.

NICOBULUS
Avaunt from me, abomination! Shakes her off.

1st BACCHIS
Do, my love, let me prevail upon you.

NICOBULUS
You, prevail upon me? 2nd

FIRST BACCHIS
For sure, I shall prevail, at all events, upon this gentleman. Pointing PHILOXENUS.

PHILOXENUS
Yes, I beg of you to show me in-doors.

2nd BACCHIS
What a dear man you are.

PHILOXENUS
But do you know on what condition you are to show me in-doors?

2nd BACCHIS
That you are to be with me.

PHILOXENUS
You mention all that I desire.

2nd BACCHIS
...

NICOBULUS
I have seen wicked men; but not one worse than yourself.

PHILOXENUS
I am as I am.

1st BACCHIS
to NICOBULUS . Step this way in-doors with me, where you may be elegantly received with viands, wine, and unguents.

NICOBULUS
Enough, enough now of your banquets; it matters not to me how I'm received. My son and Chrysalus have choused me out of four hundred Philippeans. If I don't surely this day put him to the torture, may I never receive as large a sum again.

1st BACCHIS
What, pray, if half the gold is paid you back? Will you go in-doors here with me, and so control your feelings as to forgive them their faults?

PHILOXENUS
He'll do it. Takes his arm.

NICOBULUS
Certainly not--I won't--I don't care--let me alone, now. Shakes him off. I had rather punish them both.

PHILOXENUS
Take you care, you good-for-nothing man, that through your own fault you don't lose even that which the favouring Gods offer you. One half of the gold is offered; take it, and carouse, and enjoy yourself with your partner.

NICOBULUS
What, am I to carouse in that very place where my son is being corrupted?

PHILOXENUS
You must carouse there.

NICOBULUS
Am I to be the witness of it when she is reclining with him at table?

1st BACCHIS
Nay, so far as I'm concerned, i' faith, I'll recline at table with your own self.

NICOBULUS
My head does itch so6. Aside. I'm a ruined man--I can scarce deny her.

PHILOXENUS
And has it not before this come into your mind, that if, while you live, you enjoy yourself, that, i' faith, is for no very long time; and that, if you lose the present day, it can never return to you after you are dead?

NICOBULUS
What am I to do?

PHILOXENUS
What are you to do? Do you even ask it?

NICOBULUS
I should like, and yet I'm afraid.

1st BACCHIS
What are you afraid of?

NICOBULUS
Lest I should be exposed before my son and my servant.

1st BACCHIS
Pray now, my honey; such things do happen. He's your own son; whence do you suppose that he is to have money, except that only which you give him yourself? Let me obtain pardon of you for them both.

NICOBULUS
aside . How she does work her way. She's now prevailing on me against that which I was quite resolved upon.

1st BACCHIS
I will love you, and embrace you.

NICOBULUS
Through your doing, and for your sake am I corrupted.

1st BACCHIS
I certainly had rather 'twere for your own than for mine.

NICOBULUS
Come then, however that may be, although it is to my disgrace, I'll submit; I'll induce my feelings to do so.

1st BACCHIS
Have I that solemnly promised? ...

NICOBULUS
What I have once said, I will not alter.

1st BACCHIS
The day wears apace. Come into the house, to take your places at table: your sons are expecting within----

NICOBULUS
How soon, in fact, we may be dead, d'ye mean?

1st BACCHIS
'Tis evening, already; come, follow us.

PHILOXENUS
Lead us in like bondsmen7. They go into the house.

1st BACCHIS
to the SPECTATORS . Right cleverly are these persons entrapped8 themselves, who for their sons had laid a snare. Goes in.

The COMPANY The company: The whole company of actors (Caterva) now comes forward, and chant or repeat the moral of the Play which has just been acted. of COMEDIANS
Had not these old men been worthless from their youth upwards, they would not, with their hoary heads, have this day done an action so disgraceful; nor, indeed, should we have represented this, if we had not, before this, seen it happen that fathers became the rivals of their sons in the houses of procurers. Spectators, we wish you Farewell! and that you will grant us loud applause.

1 Driving these sheep: She calls them sheep, probably, because of their venerable appearance; though she afterwards remarks that they are but dirty sheep. Perhaps, too, it was the custom among ladies of this class, in cant phrase to call those "sheep" who could stand fleecing; a point on which it will be found in the dialogue that they exchange remarks. "Goats" would have been a more appropriate name, under the circumstances for the old sinners.

2 Old and fleeceless: "Mina ovis" was a sheep that had no wool on its belly. It is hard to say why this name was given to it. If the word "mina" had signified a certain coin, and not a sum of money merely, we might have supposed it alluded to the smoothness of the coin.

3 Be driven in-doors to fold: "Cogantur." Literally, "let them be driven within." "Cogor" was the term applied to penning or folding sheep of cattle.

4 That bites: He alludes to his having been bitten by Chrysalus.

5 Pon honor: Ναι γάρ. This Greek phrase was, no doubt, used as a cant or off-hand mode of expression, just as on similar occasions we adopt the French "oui" or "vraiement," "yes," "decidedly."

6 Does itch so: Being in doubt what to do, he scratches his head, and then tries to turn it off by saying, "Bless me, how my head does itch."

7 Like bondsmen: "Addicti" were those who were made the slaves of their creditors; being thus by law deprived of their liberty until they had paid their debts.

8 These persons entrapped: The two old men, at this moment, would form a good companion picture to the Elders, who solicited the chastity of Susanna.

9 The company: The whole company of actors (Caterva) now comes forward, and chant or repeat the moral of the Play which has just been acted.

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